Social distancing sanity break in the time of Covid

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Zion National Park, Utah

While I have been militantly picky about social distancing, masking and all other Covid precautions, I would be lying if I said I have not missed travelling. Even with all the hiking I try to get in. So when news of the second (or is it third?) surge in Covid cases hit the airwaves in early November, I had to make a decision. Hunker down some more and risk insanity (and the possibility of my teenagers absconding) or use logic and science to craft the safest possible getaway. Obviously, I chose the latter.

Zion National Park, Utah

With my family unit quarantined in the mobile isolation unit we call our (ten year old) SUV and a couple of AirBNB reservations, we escaped from congested SoCal.

First stop, Henderson, Nevada.

Clark County Wetlands, Henderson, NV

A late lunch on a socially distanced outdoor patio was well deserved and also memorable – because it was only the 3rd time in the last 8 months that we had eaten outside the home. The previous 2 had been recent stops at a couple of burger joints where we also sat on the patio after almost giving it a sponge bath with Clorox wipes.

Virgin River, Zion National Park, Utah

We arrived in Washington, UT, just after dark. The AirBNBs all seem to have been fitted with electronic locks to facilitate socially distanced, contact-less check in and checkout. Ours was in a nice golf course neighborhood and did not disappoint. After a carryout dinner of pizza and some chill time with a scrabble board, we thankfully turned in. Our destination the next day was the spectacular Zion National Park.

Zion National Park, Utah

The park was a quick half hour drive and the crowds were thin. After buying the annual NPS pass to support the system, we were a little dismayed to find that the only access into the lower section of the park was in an enclosed shuttle with a few other people. After some hand wringing and intensely poring over Apple maps, we took the decision to park at the bottom of the gated road and hike in. I blame the spectacular scenery for the 45 minute hike turning into a 90 minutle dawdle. And this buck.

The Zion Buck

At the other end was the trailhead to the equally spectacular Emerald pools. A brief lunch and photo break later we embarked on another hour long hike, this one much more uphill than the previous one. But the views were even more exhilarating.

Top of the world view
More gorgeousness
We will miss you Zion
Heading back
Evening is coming
Goodbye Buckaroos

Day 3 saw us exploring some of the local state parks. Utah has dozens of those and they all seem to rival the national parks.

Quail creek State Park, Utah

The hills reflected in the water and we reflected on the bizarre state of the world and our nation.

Snow Canyon State Park, Utah

Snow Canyon has rare lava fields and lava tubes, The vast open spaces made us feel secure and protected from the scourge of the virus.

That evening we made it to our second AirBNB in Vegas. The electronic door entry and contactless check in were again a soothing balm to our social distancing minds.

Lake Mead, NV

The final day in Vegas was spent hiking around Lake Mead and the Clark County Wetlands in Henderson. Lunch on the last day was another patio affair after scoping out the joint and waiting about 20 minutes to be seated at the lone table on the extreme end of the patio that was at least 12 feet from the nearest table.

The Guardian of the wetlands

Now that we are about 4 days out from the trip and asymptomatic – we are probably safe. We hope we will not be judged for having taken this much needed sanity break after 8 long months of austerity.

What have your travel experiences been since the pandemic started?

All photos credit Vijay Kini and this camera.

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